“Where does it live, that place of permission
that lets a person chart a new terrain of possibility,
that makes her dare to believe she can be something other
than what her culture tells her she is,
and then become what she believes she can?”
~ Maria Popova, Figuring
It is with truly heavy hearts that we share the devastating news that Sun, Gentle World’s co-founder and beloved friend to many around the world, passed away on February 6th.
Sun had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer which she had been bravely trying to overcome since the early part of 2018. Her hope was that everyone who knew and loved her would learn about her diagnosis once she had conquered it, and we would be able to celebrate together the story of the miraculous victory that she still had in her vision until her very last day.
It was Sun’s strength of spirit that led her to embrace veganism almost 50 years ago, without even knowing that there were others beside her husband and herself who shared this philosophy:
“When my husband Light and I became vegan in February of 1970, there was one reason and one reason only. It wasn’t because of its health benefits, which were unknown at the time, as was its positive effect on the environment. If factory farms existed, we hadn’t heard of them. Animal rights was not yet an issue, even outside the mainstream. We were not even aware that there was a word for what we were doing until years later, as both the word and the concept were virtually unknown.”
~ Sun, co-founder of Gentle World
Sun and Light celebrating their 47th ‘veganniversary’ in 2017
Those of us who have been inspired by this pioneering woman offer our heartfelt thanks for all she has given to us and to the world, and trust that she rests in the peace she has earned as a result of the countless lives that have been changed for the better thanks to her courage, her generosity of spirit, and her commitment to bringing to life her truly inspired vision of a vegan world.
Sun with Maya the Vegan Weimaraner in “Mount Olympus”
(Gentle World’s summer woodland home for 20 seasons)
Sun’s Vision of VeganLand
“An oasis of peace for the vegan in everyone.”
Over the past year, despite her declining health, Sun remained steadfast in her dream of expanding Gentle World’s education by developing a new and improved visitor center and vegan sanctuary in Hawaii.
(See what visitors to our NZ center are saying here.)
Gentle World was granted a land loan in 2017, enabling us to secure a magnificent piece of property with plenty of space to upgrade our volunteer and visitor accommodations, and perfect growing conditions to demonstrate the possibilities of a plant-based agricultural model here in the hub of sustainability that is the Big Island of Hawaii.
VeganLand was much more to Sun than simply her final wish for Gentle World. In her own words, her vision was for it to be “an oasis of peace for the vegan in everyone.” For those us who are mourning the loss of such an exceptional woman from a world still so much in need of her unique wisdom and invaluable understanding, VeganLand represents a way for us to carry on her legacy, to share with Gentle World visitors well into the future all that Sun learned in her extraordinary life and all that she contributed to the lives of those of us who have been blessed with the opportunity to learn alongside her.
Light and Sun in Shangri-La, Gentle World’s New Zealand sanctuary and visitor center
Our readers are invited to share in some of the heartwarming comments that have poured in from friends around the world since Sun’s passing. We have combined the highlights of these sentiments into one collective tribute. For those who did not have the tremendous good fortune to have crossed paths with Sun, we hope these words shine a loving and tender light on the scope of her influence.
What a Life She Lived!
In this moment, we must acknowledge the embrace of such a special spirit. This, our temporary world, is deeply aggrieved at losing such a loving part of it. The world may never know what we all witnessed: a brilliant mind, a radical soul and a visionary heart. She lived a life few dared to have dreamed, and in doing so has been able to lift and inspire so many others. Few have lived a life so full of mission and purpose.
We are very fortunate to have known the shining Sun – what an example of how one should move through this world! Sun was an amazing woman and pioneer for all beings. She lived a life of honor and contribution and her kindness and her life on this Earth will not be forgotten. Sun was such an inspiration in the strong moral character she expressed in her writing and, most important, in the way she lived her life. She was an admirable woman and a beautiful human being. She was a beacon to us all. She gave so much to the world.
Her soul was as pure and radiant as an infant’s, and she could be counted on at all times to bring peace and understanding to troubled hearts. Every time I saw her, she was shining. Even when she was in pain, she always took time to make conversation and show genuine kindness. Sun was a beautiful soul. The light in her eyes and smile, the poetry in her words, these reached into my heart and live there still.
I am so thankful to have had the privilege of knowing her. She was, is, such a force for good in the world, and I remember receiving the blessing of her energy. I think of all the sweet creatures who have realized lives free of brutality because of Sun’s dedication. Her legacy will live on reverberating and increasing exponentially the love of all sentient beings, and particularly those without a human voice of their own.
I am grateful to have met her and to have been inspired by her high powers. My debt to her is immeasurable. She literally gave me permission to eject from a worldly path onto the vegan journey my life became. She invited me to embrace my highest calling. What greater gift can one person give to another?
I am incredibly thankful that I got to bathe in the light of her being and learn valuable life lessons from her. She was such a powerful role model for me in so many ways and I will be forever grateful to have known her. She was so vibrant! She reminded me in ways of a Broadway Star, she shone so brightly. She truly was a strong love-filled woman of great wisdom, and the world is far less beautiful without her loving spirit. Her strength, vision, love for all creatures, joy in living, and creation of idyllic places on earth and in our hearts are memories to treasure.
We are all so sorry we are not celebrating Sun’s successful vanquishing of her cancer. But we are by all means, celebrating a magnificently, purposefully, and lovingly lived life that touched and smiled upon so many lives throughout the many decades she graced the planet with her special genius.
A truly remarkable human being and a dear loyal trusted friend, that is Sun. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to know such a powerful and sage woman. Her sincere love will be missed and cherished always. I feel blessed to have shared some time on Earth with her. She gave so much love to this world. May the sun never set on her influence.
At the same time we realize that she is free not gone. True to her name, her light shines on, and Sun’s legacy lives in our hearts and memories. We were so enriched by Sun. She lifted us all. Now we have to take the mantle and lift.
What a beautiful woman! We will always have a special place in our hearts with wonderful memories of the best hugs and beautiful compassion that she shared with everyone.
Sun is at peace now, in a vegan land we can only imagine.
May She Rest in Power.